A BARANGAY DIVIDED
A controversial ordinance on the safety of the unborn child is causing a stir among Ayala Alabang residents as issues on morality, beliefs and rights are raised.
The Sangguniang Barangay of Ayala Alabang enacted the Barangay Ordinance 01-2011, also known as the Protection of the Unborn Child Ordinance of 2011, on January 3, 2011. This has caused a rift between pro-and anti-ordinance groups, which only fuels the controversy even more.
The ordinance supports its policies with the Constitution’s Article II Section 11 to 14, Article III Section 1, Article XV Section 3, and Articles 256 to 259. These citations point out that the sanctity of family life must be protected and strengthened, the life and the rights of the mother and the unborn child should be defended, and that the provision of abortifacients and abortive acts are subject to the Revised Penal Code.
The People’s Reaction
Not everyone found the ordinance beneficial to the barangay. As one Ayala Alabang Village (AAV) resident says, “I find it offensive that my free, informed, and very personal choice has been taken away.” Another resident from a neighboring barangay shares her views as well, saying, “I think that the ordinance is poorly worded. The wording alludes to the not-so-subtle aim to stigmatize contraceptives by labeling them as abortifacients. I'm not for pre-marital sex, but just because I support reproductive health doesn't mean that I sacrifice one value for the other.”
There are also those who see the ordinance as laudable. AAV resident Serafin Cauilan shares, “I support the ordinance. It is in line with the law. Even on the moral issue, it is right. It saddens me how this has turned into a controversy. I hope that we can all come together and make this ordinance work for all.” A letter circulated in AAV addressed to the barangay chairman states, “ This commendable local legislation reinforces the morals and values of our community for the sanctity of life and defense of the helpless children still unborn inside their mother’s wombs.”
On the other side of the spectrum, anti-RH Bill advocate Jill Alcoreza sees how the ordinance
Protection of the Unborn Child Ordinance of 2011 points out that the sanctity of family life must be protected
and strengthened, the life and the rights of the mother and the unborn child should be defended, and that the provision of abortifacients and abortive acts are subject
to the Revised Penal Code.
is not favorable to the community. “My initial reaction was gratefulness for the people who actively expressed concern or great value for life—particularly that of the unborn child. But as I further reflected, I was saddened with the situation that the pro-and anti-ordinance groups are in. Instead of being united to achieve a common goal, the community is effectively divided,” Alcoreza says. Another anti-RH Bill supporter Juan M. Borra III also shares, “I'm not a big fan of such heavyhanded attempts to proscribe a certain moral view. You cannot legislate morality. You can, however, raise a person to be moral.”
Committee on Health and Sanitation Answers Back
The Committee on Health and Sanitation of the Sangguniang Panglungsod ng Muntinlupa wrote to Barangay Ayala Alabang in a letter dated January 11, 2011, saying how the wording of the ordinance may be questioned in a court of law. Among other things, the committee points out how “Barangay Health Centers are mandated to comply with the directives and guidelines issued and promulgated by the Department of Health ( DOH).” IUDs and hormonal contraceptives are included in the DOH’s list of admissible methods of the Family Planning Program.
Due to the issues addressed by the committee, Barangay Ayala Alabang held a second public hearing on March 19, 2011. The outcome of the hearing was aimed to aid the Sangguniang Panglusod of Muntinlupa in making the decision regarding the ordinance. The hearing turned into a heated debate where the “anti” side spoke about the legality of the ordinance while the “ pro” side pushed the need to reinforce morality.
As we go to press, the Sangguniang Barangay of Ayala Alabang has not disclosed clear steps of action with regards to rectifying or retaining the ordinance. Despite the divide the ordinance has caused, the people of Ayala Alabang agree on one thing— the problems our society is facing must be addressed with a viable and lawful solution agreeable to all.